The LA Clippers are officially down to their final pre-season game before the NBA's regular season begins once again. In their third pre-season matchup, the Clippers fell to the Dallas Mavericks 122-114.
Both teams played their starting lineups for the first half only, and this is where Dallas gained their first edge. In just 17 minutes before taking the rest of the night off, Luka Doncic nearly put up a triple-double with 14 PTS, 9 AST, and 8 REB on 5/11 shooting. Luka was one of three Mavericks starter in double figures, with Kristaps Porzingis scoring 15 PTS, and Dwight Powell adding 14 of his own.
The Clippers did not get quite the same production from their starters that Dallas did. Reggie Jackson shot the ball well, pouring in 14 PTS on 3/5 from distance; however, Paul George never quite got into an offensive rhythm, scoring just 6 points on 2/8 from the field.
The NBA pre-season is always much more about trends than final scores, and for the Clippers, this is undoubtedly the case. While the team has dropped two of their first three pre-season matchups, there have been some positive takeaways that hope to translate into the regular season as well.
One of these positive takeaways for the Clippers so far in pre-season, and one that was well on display against Dallas, is the play of Isaiah Hartenstein. The Clippers signed Hartenstein to a non-guaranteed contract on the premise that he would compete with Harry Giles for the team's final roster spot. While Giles has played just fine, Hartenstein looks to have the edge on that battle.
In Friday's game against the Mavericks, Hartenstein poured in 16 PTS, 8 REB, 5 AST, and 2 BLK on 6/7 from the field. His chemistry with the second unit looked fantastic, as he was on the receiving end of multiple alley-oops, while also setting up his teammates for scoring chances as well.
Another bright spot for the Clippers throughout the pre-season, and especially in this matchup, has been the confidence of Luke Kennard. Kennard's ability, especially from deep, has never been a question; however, his confidence has wavered at times. That has not been the case during the pre-season, and certainly was not the case in this matchup vs. Dallas. In just 23 minutes of play, Luke Kennard gave the Clippers 19 PTS on 5/6 from downtown. He was letting it fly from deep every chance he got, and was nearly perfect from beyond the arc.
Another trend that has developed during this pre-season, has been the chemistry between Luke Kennard and Isaiah Hartenstein. When asked postgame about playing alongside Luke in that second unit, Hartenstein said that his movement and shooting makes him an easy teammate to play alongside. Hartenstein mentioned his time with the Houston Rockets, when he played alongside several shooters, as one of the reasons why he feels so comfortable finding a shooter like Kennard.
After taking a lead into the fourth quarter, the Clippers were unable to hold off the Mavericks in that final frame. Both teams utilized several young players in the fourth quarter, and the Clippers' youth looked outmatched. After surrendering an 8-0 run that gave Dallas the lead early in the quarter, the Clippers were never able to regain any momentum.
Despite failing to keep the lead in that final frame, the Clippers once again got an impressive performance from 51st overall pick Brandon Boston Jr. The rookie gave the Clippers 10 PTS, 3 REB, and 1 STL during his 15 minutes off the bench. Boston was subbed in for Terance Mann during the second quarter after Mann seemingly rolled his ankle and limped to the bench.
When asked postgame about the status of Mann's injury, coach Ty Lue said that he too thought it was an ankle injury at first, but Mann actually got kneed in the thigh. Coach Lue did not seem concerned about Mann missing any time, as it was just one of those injuries that hurts momentarily but is not relatively serious.
The Clippers will play one final pre-season game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday before beginning their preparation for the season opener against the Golden State Warriors on October 21st.